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5E D&D Halloween ghost bar

D&D Ideas — Halloween

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is Halloween, which we discussed in our live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy, by signing up here. Speaking of Halloween we treat our awesome Patreon supporters with treats throughout the month including automatic entry into giveaways for RPG swag. We package up $50 or more in games and accessories every month, not just in October. No tricks! Patreon supporters also receive exclusive magic item cards and maps, digital books with content for Game Masters and players alike, opportunities to game with Nerdarchy and more. Check us out and discover the tier that fits best for you here.

Nerdy News

The blood is the life from the week that was! Tap into blood magic, leave your paltry hit points behind, focus on one shot and one kill plus more on our slick new revamped website (hype!) plus new live chats with creative folks and industry pros and live play RPGs round out this week’s Nerdy News. Check it out here.

Delving Dave’s Dungeon

When we did the weekly live chat and started talking about the Halloween holiday I felt inspired and compelled. The image of jack-o’-lanterns flying around spewing forth fire from their mouths spoke to me. So I decided to create the monster for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons.

Possessed by Evil. Animated jack-o’-lanterns are pumpkins possessed by evil spirits. Before the spirit awakens within it they appear to be ordinary pumpkins. These spirits are malicious and seek to wreak havoc on the living.

Creature of the Night. These spirits can only possess their pumpkin hosts from dusk to dawn. Come sunrise they must flee the light of day and leave their pumpkin host if they are outdoors.

Animated Jack-O’-Lantern

Tiny undead, chaotic evil

Armor Class 13

Hit Points 71 (11d4 + 44)

Speed 0 ft., fly 40 ft. (hover)

  • Strength 12 (+1)
  • Dexterity 16 (+3)
  • Constitution 19 (+4)
  • Intelligence 4 (-3)
  • Wisdom 13 (+1)
  • Charisma 13 (+1)

Skills Intimidate +3, Perception +3

Senses passive Perception 13

Languages Common

Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Damage Resistances Bludgeoning, Cold, Lightning, Necrotic

Damage Immunities Fire, Poison

Condition Immunities Exhaustion, Paralyzed, Poisoned, Prone, Unconscious

False Appearance. While the animated jack-o’-lantern remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a normal pumpkin.

Actions

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 8 (2d6 + 1) piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) fire damage.

Flame Breath (Recharge 5-6). The animated jack-o’-lantern exhales a fiery blast in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 22 (5d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Animate Pumpkin (1/Day). The animated jack-o’-lantern magically animates one pumpkin it can see within 60 feet of it. This pumpkin has the same statistics as an animated jack-o’-lantern, except they have Intelligence and Charisma scores of 1, they can’t speak, and they have only the Bite action option. An animated pumpkin acts as an ally of the animated jack-o’-lantern. The animated pumpkin remains animate for 1 hour or until it dies; until the animated jack-o’-lantern dies or is more than 120 feet from the animated pumpkin; or until the animated jack-o’-lantern takes a bonus action to turn it back into an inanimate pumpkin.

Reactions

Frightful Glare. The animated jack-o’-lantern adds 2 to its AC against one attack that would hit it. To do so, the animated jack-o’-lantern must see the attacker.

From Ted’s Head

All Hallows’ Eve, Samhain, Halloween or any other name you might have heard of means so much in the gaming crowd. For those crazy people like me who enjoy costumes and such we even have Larpers’ Christmas. But when we look at it for the gaming table there are so many themes that automatically come to mind. Anything involving undead, possession, pumpkins and the list goes on and on.

My favorite fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons one shot to run is even based off of a haunted house. Betrayal at House on the Hill is one of my favorite board games. If you happen to have this game on your shelf you have a perfect recipe for a new 5E D&D game. I have written at least one post at Nerdarcy the Website about this. I have a plan of having room tiles and hallways ready to be able to bust out the house for any games with an easy to carry folder with all the notes I need. I already have ten scenarios based off of the board game and other ideas fitting to the theme.

When you look at this amazing concept for games for Halloween I feel it is the most fitting holiday for gamers. So when I look at making things to fit the theme you can make game concepts, magic items or even villains to cover creepy, scary or any layer of horror you wish to dive into.

But the magic items you give out or an NPC possesses can make all the difference. Using things like fear make for a forced effect can give the proper feel of a game.

Creepy Ring

Ring, uncommon

This ring comes in a variety of different styles but it always looks creepy. It could be a small bone magically convinced to be shaped into a ring. It could be a ring of small skulls or eye balls but whatever it looks like it is always bizarre and gives anyone who looks at it an uneasy feeling in their gut.

When you wear this ring and cast a spell, verbal components sound eerie and physical manifestations of spells give off creepy vibes. It could be the color of the flames. skulls or faces in the visualization of the spells or whatever you can think of.

Fright Armor

Armor (any), very rare (requires attunement)

You have a +1 bonus to AC while wearing this armor. The armor always appears dark and tends to pull light in. While attuned to the armor you can use your bonus action to transform the armor into images evoking horror and fear. It could be skulls, unblinking eyes or faces trying to push their way out of the armor. Regardless of what imagery you choose for the next 1 minute you are immune to the frightened condition. In addition any creature that targets you with a melee attack must fist make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save the creature loses the attack. Creatures immune to the frightened condition are immune to this effect.

Once you use this property, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

From the Nerditor’s desk

When it comes to Halloween I prefer my fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons same as my real world celebration of the holiday — spooky and light hearted. Skeletons, witches and ghosts with creepy jack-o’-lanterns, spiderwebs and gravestones decorations all about. For me a great 5E D&D Halloween adventure balances the fun and festive feeling of the holiday with a dash of supernatural danger to challenge heroes.

The Halloween adventure I touched on during the live chat offers both these things in equal measure. I ran this adventure for my girlfriend as her introduction to 5E D&D and I’ll break it down for you here so you can try it out for your own Halloween one shot.

There’s three parts to this adventure, which can take place in any community of regular folk from a small rural village to a neighborhood in a larger city. For me it was the small coastal town where many adventurers begin their careers in my world. Reaping Day is an annual festival celebrating the harvest time with fun and games including costumes and candy.

To begin adventurers get a chance to participate in games of skill and chance around town during the day. They can visit costumers for their own dress up scenarios, bob for apples, dunk a werewolf and so on.

Once night falls the spookiness begins. A local person who really wants to win the annual costume contest acquired a magical ritual book and enacts a ritual within to enhance their costume. Unfortunately this person executes the ritual poorly, or perhaps too well? The whole town is transformed into a spooky place and everyone turns into the creature they’re dressed as for the holiday.

Heroes find all of the fun and games take on a dangerous quality as they search for the source of the supernatural shenanigans. Defeating the transformed people breaks the curse on them and they return to normal (avoiding the slaughter of innocent folk enjoying the holiday).

Once the party finds the house where the ritual was enacted they can defeat the occult force causing the trouble and return things to normal. This could be a creature for the party to fight, a counter ritual to enact or a combination of both.

I enjoy this structure because it’s adaptable and scalable. For a low level party monsters like skeletons, zombies and giant spiders make suitable opposition. Higher level heroes might face true werewolves, vampires and mummies.

Providing time and opportunities to engage with local folk before anything goes awry makes a big difference too. Characters learn who some of the people are and get a lay of the land. This way when the spookiness begins they’ve got some ideas where to go and feel investing in helping.

This year once again the October monthly one shot falls in my lap and I’m tempted to run this Halloween scenario again with a few tweaks and changes. For one I think a certain unusual character will pop up around town to cause some additional mischief and see if they can scare the heck out of the adventurers. Any questions?

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